The reports that the music industry is dying may have been premature.
Today in London, Steve Jobs and EMI announced that the music label will make its entire digital music catalog available DRM-free beginning in May (excluding The Beatles' music). This move comes almost 2 months after Steve Jobs made a plea to the music industry to dump DRM completely. The RIAA balked at the suggestion, but EMI quickly announced that they were indeed considering this move. Apparently they are considering it no more, it's now about to become reality.
iTunes will get first shot at selling EMI's tracks DRM-free beginning in May. The tracks will sell for an additional 30 cents, at $1.29, and customers that have previously purchased tracks by EMI artists can 'upgrade' their track for 30 cents. The upgrade gets you a DRM-free version, and superior sound quality as the DRM-free tracks have a bitrate of 256Kbps, compared to the 128Kbps for standard iTunes tracks.
Somewhat lost in the hype over EMI losing its DRM, is that Jobs added during today's joint presentation with the label that he expects HALF of the tunes available on iTunes to be DRM-free by year's end. He also added that he will reach out to other labels beginning today to offer them the same deal.
This is a huge publicity coup for both Jobs and EMI. It will put pressure on other labels to follow suit, but also gives the labels the price increase that they were demanding. And the fact that this deal is happening is almost a pseudo-admission by EMI that they realize that music piracy isn't going to cripple their business as labels have claimed since Napster became popular in the late 90s. In fact it should be a boon for EMI's artists, as anything that makes it easier to distribute digital music, leads to more sales.
As EMI is about to find out. When they do, look for the other biggies to follow suit.
The Viral Garden, Marketing, Music Marketing, Apple